6 Most Important Things You Should do While Processing Orders

The life cycle of an online sale can be roughly broken into three parts – pre-order, order processing and post-order. Here, the pre-order phase deals with issues like research, sourcing/purchasing of inventory, SKU coding, pricing, setting up of the online shop, etc. The post-order phase is all about shipment tracking, payment, dealing with returns, etc. While we will deal with each of these phases in separate posts, this one is particularly about the all important order processing stage. Order processing is what you will do once you have received the order through your online portal, till you have successfully shipped it off to your customer. A myriad number of processes are involved between these two stages, each of them as important that the next. First of all, you will need all your orders from different online marketplaces to be consolidated into one single sheet. This can be done in a hassle free manner by using a multi channel inventory management software like Browntape. Once this is done, various other steps like checking inventory, making pick and pack lists, creating manifests, etc. are to be done. We have made a list of the 6 most important ones. Let us look at each of them in detail.

How to Process Orders?

1. Checking Inventory Status

Once your order list is consolidated, you need to check your inventory for the availability of the desired product. This is where the vitality of SKU codes is realized. Is the product in stock? If no, can it be procured in time? If it is available, is it available at multiple locations? In the big picture, the location based availability of the product will be a major factor in the delivery time to the customer. Once the desired product is identified and the stock is deducted, this is when you really start processing the order.

2. Creating a Pick List

Now that the products have been identified as being in stock, comes the time to pick them up for packing. This seems like an easy enough process, but can be a cause for major mistakes. Create a specific ‘pick list’, or a list of items to be picked from the warehouse. The pick list would not depend upon individual orders of customers, but rather, a single list of all the products to be shipped on a particular day. The job of the person to whom the pick list is assigned is to just collect the products in bulk and deposit them to the packing centre.

3. Creating a Pack List

The pack list is a whole different ball game. A single customer may end up buying multiple products which would have to be collected and packed together. A pack list is exclusively based on individual orders, to assist the packing process. Clump the products delivered according to your pack list. Creating two different lists for your picking and packing needs would drastically reduce a margin of error.

4. Handle the Courier Issue

Is the order from an online marketplace or your own website? Does the online marketplace provide a courier service? If it does, print shipping labels and AWBs and notify the marketplace for a scheduled pick up. If the order is to be self-fulfilled, you must have a courier system in place. Are you planning to bear the courier costs or do you expect your customer to do so? Each of these scenarios requires different steps in planning and documentation. Remember that the customer must be notified before the purchase that he/she would have to bear the cost of delivery.

5. Print Shipping Labels and Manifests

Once the nitty-gritties of the courier are taken care of, print and paste shipping labels, AWBs and other documentation, and dispatch your products. A very important step is to create a daily manifest that shows how many orders are in transit and waiting to be fulfilled. This will be your master list till the products have been delivered to your customers. Create individual manifests for the different courier services that you will employ. This will keep your processing dashboard extremely clear and transparent.

6. Notify Your Customers

Many online sellers forget this vital step during order processing. Please send timely notifications to your customers regarding the status of your orders. With an inventory management software like Browntape, this will be done automatically for you. Take care to create systems so that flags will be raised in case of delays in courier transportation. You can even share the courier tracking number with your customers.

This was our brief take on things to do once you receive an online order. For more information or queries about any aspect in online sales and ecommerce, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Browntape. Happy selling!

Whats New at Browntape

Browntape has established itself as a trusted name when it comes to multi-channel inventory management systems in India. This week, we are proud to announce some new additions to the ever-growing list of features that Browntape provides. Our vision to make online business a hassle-free, rewarding experience for the seller, regardless of the size of their company is what drives us to keep tinkering with our software to make it more efficient. This time, we came up with a few solutions that we are sure you’d appreciate.

New Features at Browntape

1. Flipkart, Opencart Integration

As promised, we have completed Flipkart and Opencart integration and it will be available to you on Browntape. Opencart, a free Open Source ecommerce platform for online merchants, is extremely user friendly and intuitive. Now, online sellers will be able to avail a more rewarding online selling experience with a more robust, feature rich interface and quicker service.

 

Browntape adds flipkart and opercart in channels

Flipkart and Opencart join the Browntape party!

2. Pause Sync Feature

Keeping in mind the need for better accessibility and control over your online business software, we have introduced a new pause sync feature on Browntape. The aim with this feature is to let the user dictate the terms for an online sync in data, which can be a tedious process that tends to utilize a large chunk of the system. With pause sync, you can choose when and how to make your online data available for offline use and storage.

New feature: Pause Autosync

New feature: Pause Autosync

 

3. Automatic Courier Tracking

Browntape now comes armed with another feature that will go a long way in making your online sales process more fruitful. Delivery and postage of products is usually a headache for most sellers because it generally involves the services of a third party courier service. To enhance trust with the customers and keep yourself, and them up-to-date with the status of a product in transit, we introduce automatic courier tracking.

Browntape auto track feature

Track your shipments on your order page!

 

We at Browntape are constantly striving to give you the best online business experience possible, making your job easier by simplifying the managerial aspects of handling your ecommerce business and helping you with the strategic side of being a successful online seller.


To know more about these features and more, and for general advice with your online venture, get in touch with Browntape. You give Browntape a try, completely free of charge, for the first thirty days. Lets come together and make your enterprise a success!

5 Reports You Should Make Every Week as an Online Business Owner

Owning and operating an online business can be a hectic task. Especially when you start getting established and recognized as a trustworthy seller, the orders just seem to keep flowing in. It is therefore important to cultivate certain ‘good habits’ in terms of operating your business early on, so that they stick even when the business grows in scale, and one of the most important ones is making reports. We see many business owners being lethargic about making weekly reports about their business and that reflects upon their operations. Reports are a way to formally collate and store all the relevant information about your business which can be used for many things in the future. A good report can be utilized in many things – from market analysis and prediction to tax planning. This is why it is important for all online business owners to create and store a few key weekly reports. Here is more information about the 3 most important reports you should make as an online business owner.

The Absolutely Vital Weekly Reports You Have to Make

1. Sales Report

A sales report tells you the company’s sales statistics in a given period of time. It is one of the most important metrics for a business owner because it directly reflects whether the business is successful or unsuccessful. A sales manager can look at a sales report and identify market opportunities or areas where the sales volume can be increased. Since sales are generally seasonal and are dependent on holidays, festivals and special occasions, it is good to have week-to-week sales reports for the previous year handy, while planning for the current year. The prime metric that a sales report reflects during analysis is product demand. It is important to know whether the product you are selling in the market is relevant, and if so, what are the factors that contribute to its demand or lack of it. These questions are answered through a sales report.

2. Items Sold Report

Items sold report is simply a weekly list of items sold, arranged according to the quantity of each order. It is a different way of looking at the sales data, in the sense that the metric in focus in not the number of individual orders, but the number of individual items sold. This perspective unearths additional precious information about trending products and stock levels.

3. Stock and Inventory Reports

A stock report is the third most important report that a business owner will have to create. While the sales report talks about demand, the stock report is all about the supply. As a business owner, you must be adept in being able to quench the demand that the market has. This can only be done through a well stocked inventory. An inventory report tells you exactly where you are at the end of the week, and how far behind are you for the next week. You can then work on stocking up for the future based on the numbers acquired from the reports.

4. Manifest Reports

It is important to create individual manifest reports for every courier service that you employ. Each of these reports would then contain the weekly delivery details of orders assigned to that particular courier company. This is a good practice because it helps you keep a better watch on your products in transit.

5. Customers Report

Finally, customers report is filed to get information about your customers and create a database out of it. It is better if the database is designed in a way that it recognizes recurring customers and notifies you of the same. Having a contact list of all you customers goes a long way in online marketing. After all, with digital word-of-mouth, these customers are going to be your biggest advertisers.

These are some of the most important reports that you must file diligently every week. Of course, one can file additional reports like an Item Sales by Country/Region/etc. Report according to their discretion and needs. The key behind making and storing reports is that they must all function like clockwork – different reports complement each other and might exhibit similar information in novel ways. If you have any queries about reports or any other aspect of online business, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading multi-channel inventory management system providers, and our experts are happy to help you in your journey to become a successful online seller.

 

9 Things Your Invoice Absolutely Must Have

The invoice for your sales transaction is probably the most important piece of documentation you will create and share with your customer. It is imperative that extra care has to be taken in creating its format and filling the information within it. The idea of an invoice is mutually beneficial to you and your customer in so many ways – from financial and tax to legal. It not only works as the proof of sale, but also as a legal resort in case of a discrepancy. Thus, a well made invoice is a must for any seller to protect themselves and their customers. Of course, the importance of this document should not hinder you from making a statement to your customers. For example, Flipkart, as a part of their Go-Green initiative, refrains from posting hard copies of invoices with their products. Instead, a soft copy is mailed to you within 24 hours of delivery completion. Here are a few other ways to zing up your invoices using the power of good design. This post though, is less to do with impressing your customers and more to do with the nitty gritties of what an invoice must include (Though we are sure a clean invoice with all the details mentioned below won’t fail to impress.) So, here are 9 things that your invoice absolutely must have.

The Most Important Things

1. Your Business Name and Address

Written in complete detail, so that the customer can access you.

2. The Name and Address of the Customer

Again, rely on details provided by the customer. To avoid copy-pasting errors, use an inventory management system.

3. A Unique Invoice Reference Number

Very Important for reference of transaction and tax purposes.

4. The List of Products/Services and Their Corresponding Costs

No discrepancy here, clearly list out the products and their individual costs on separate lines.

5. Total Amount of the Invoice

Make sure to use bold fonts for the final amount.

6. The Terms of Payment

Cash/Card/Cheque, etc. Please mention if the customer has already paid.

7. Date of Ordering and Date of Invoicing

A date of invoice will be the date on which the invoice is created, or in accounting parlance, ‘raised’.

8. Taxes, if any

Mention the percentages clearly. For VAT, mention your VAT Registration Number.

9. Customer Purchase Order Number

Crucial for tracking back orders, especially for large organizations.

Very Important Things That are Not Compulsory

1. Your Phone/Fax Number

2. Your Email Address

3. Payment Details, Including Bank Details

4. Total Number of Items

5. Your Company Logo

Optional Things to Put in Your Invoice

1. A Thank You Note

2. A Referral Request

3. An Offer on the Next Purchase

4. A Picture of a Hi-Fiving Cat (Because Who Can Get Enough of Those?)

A great way to get help with your invoice creation is to go for a comprehensive inventory management system like Browntape, which helps create customized invoices automatically for you. To know more about the process of making invoices and the details that go along with it, get in touch with Browntape. We are market leaders in the Indian online sales market and multi channel inventory management service providers. It will be our pleasure to help.

 

How to Make Sure Your Team Works as a Team?

To be successful as an online seller, your business has to run with a clockwork precision. Your orders from various online channels should come together efficiently. The warehouse response to these orders must be quick and precise. Your packed items must be delivered on time and without mishaps. At the same time, the queries of your existing and potential customers must be answered promptly. Your online and social media identity must be actively preserved. Taxes must be paid, inventory must be managed. There are so many in’s and out’s to this business, that as it grows, you need to start delegating more and more jobs to your team. Managing a team of different people with expertise in different fields is a task in itself. In this post, we will talk about the best tools and practices to manage your team so that you reap maximum benefits from your business venture. So, here are the N best tools to make sure your team works as a team.

Our Favorite Project Management Tools for Ecommerce Businesses

1. Asana

Asana is a great tool for collaborative project management for your office. With it, you can delegate various tasks based on priority levels to various members of your team, and track the progress of each with ease. The official motto of Asana is ‘Teamwork without Email’. And this makes sense, because anyone who has worked collaboratively with email as the only means of communication, knows how difficult it can be to sift through strings of email conversations to find one in particular. Asana offers a simple alternative to this where all of your team, whether onsite or offsite can be on a single platform and always in touch with each other. Other features of Asana include file sharing, adding notes, links, tags, etc. to tasks and a simple intuitive to-do list. The design is very user friendly and the fact that it is completely free as long as your team consists of less than 15 people is an added benefit.

2. Evernote

On the face of it, Evernote is just a simple note-taking app. Why would you need it as a collaborative tool for an ecommerce business? The truth is, Evernote is one of the finest office tools you are ever likely to come across. As this article explains, the key to using Evernote is to jump into it with both feet. It is not exactly a project management software, like Asana, but it can serve well as your repository for everything that you need to run your office. If you are an online seller, you constantly need to be online, checking up on competition and observing market trends. Doesn’t it usually happen that you forget that you created a bookmark for a very useful page, like this one? With the Evernote Web Clipper, you can easily store and recall all the important webpages in one communal space. Creating balance sheets, recording meetings, taking office notes becomes so easy. And the best part is, with Evernote for Business, your complete team can access all the data from one place.

3. Google Apps

It is probable that you are already a big fan of the Google Apps, and if you aren’t, you should be. There is rarely anything else in the market right now that is created to be as intuitive and comprehensive as Google’s range of products. With amazing cloud capabilities and a storage space of 15Gb, Google gives you immense freedom to create, store and edit on the fly. Living up to the motto ‘One Password, all of Google’, you get access to applications including but not limited to Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Keep, Mail and much more. You can use the vast cloud storage space to store all the analytical data and balance sheets that your business requires. Google Hangouts becomes a great way to be in touch with your team, all the time. A good thing to do for your online business is to acquire a Google Apps Suite from a Google Apps Authorised Reseller and Migration Specialist. This way, you be able to create your company email handle within Gmail, and utilize all the Google Apps as a team.

4. Browntape

An inventory management system is probably the most specialized tool created for online sellers. Browntape’s version of a multi channel inventory management system is specifically designed to work smoothly between parts of a team. While most of the products displayed above are great collaborative tools, none of them gets as close to the actual process of online sales as Browntape. With multi user access, your team members can log into the dashboard and edit information regarding orders, inventory, etc. for the group to see. Also, since many of the jobs, like sending emails to the customers, printing shipping labels and consolidating orders from different channels are performed by Browntape automatically, it works more like another member in your team, rather than a community interface. Browntape thus becomes an active part of your team’s processes – a virtual assistant for all your inventory management needs.

5. Wave

Wave is a service that handles one of the most important aspects of having a team – paying them. Connect your team with Wave and directly transfer funds into their accounts – whether they are your employees or freelancers. Integrating your Wave account with your company bank account also helps you manage invoices from freelance contractors and project based employees. Apart from that, Wave can help you in managing your accounting solutions for your online sales too. It also comes with a nifty analytics dashboard that keeps your informed about the financial aspect of your business.

These are some of the tools that you can use to make sure that your online sales team really works as a team. To know more about them and other queries about ecommerce businesses and online sales, get in touch with us at Browntape. We are the leading multichannel online inventory management system providers in India. We are always happy to be of any assistance!

 

Why Email is an Online Seller’s Best Friend

The online selling marketplace is a typical example of an aggressive ecosystem. You have to adapt quickly to all the technological changes around you to survive, and thrive. Although email is a technology that has been around for many many years, it’s applications in terms of online sales are some of the most effective ways to increase your business. For an online seller, email is one of the only few ways to have an actual dialogue with the customer. Of course, there are other, more sophisticated ways of networking, like Facebook and Twitter. But as a recent study shows, email is still an online seller’s best friend as compared to social media. Facebook/Twitter have their own advantages in the world of online sales, which consist of consolidating a mass outreach and creating a trustworthy and accessible online presence. But in terms of hard selling figures, email beats them all. In the last four years, the online retailers have quadrupled the rate of customers acquired through email to nearly 7 percent. Here are 5 reasons why email is the way to go for you as an online seller.

What Email Does for an Online Seller

1. Emails are Private

In fact, they are the one of the only means of online communication that are exclusively built upon the idea of privacy. Let us start with the first step – acquiring an email address. Acquiring an email address of a customer means that they trust you enough to do business with you. This is a very valuable thing for an online seller, much more valuable than a Facebook ‘Like’ or a re-tweet. Now you can employ this email address in various aspects of your strategy, from customer management to marketing. Hence, first rules first – Do not flood an inbox with spam. Nobody likes that. It will only spoil the newly established customer-seller relationship.

2. Emails for Customer Relationships

While Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are essentially ‘social media’ platforms, email is your own personal mailbox. Many online sellers do not realize this difference between these two tools of marketing. What is the point of sending a stock email privately to a lot of people if it can be sent publicly to reach a wider margin? Instead, you can employ email for another task – survey, feedback and customer relationship establishment. Update your customers with the status of their order. Ask them at the end of the transaction whether everything went according to their convenience. This is what emails are for – private channels that help you build trust. Most good inventory management systems consist of tools that can automatically send emails to your customers regarding the status of their orders.

3. Emails for Marketing

For a seller, marketing strategy objectives can be broken down into four important parts –
1. Get them to the store.
2. Make them buy something.
3. Keep them coming back.
4. Get their friends along
.
Social media platforms are more than adept to handle step 4. But emails work wonders for step 3. This is essentially the extension of the same philosophy that led to the advent of online stores – ‘If you can’t get them to the store, get the store to their home’. Well, ‘if you can’t get them to the site, get the site to their inbox’. Of course, a certain deft touch is required in doing this, rather than plainly mailing an online catalogue. With the power of the internet, we can easily access and identify shopping patterns are search strings employed by our customers. There are tools available in the market that can analyse this data and provide a clear strategic direction. The focus should be on sending relevant emails. That is the key.

4. Emails for Cross Selling

Cross selling is one of the most lucrative techniques for making profits in the sales world. The concept is very easy, and follows the ‘Would you like to buy some ink to go with the pen you just bought?’ strategy. Product pairings and groupings are common factors in cross selling, but understanding the customers’ habits and interests also helps a lot. Because cross sells are so customer specific, emails are the best way to go about with them. The best way is to personalise your mails with sales pitches for the products that you want to cross sell. Remember, emails are just the baits. Selling comes later.

5. Strategizing the Email

All of the above is great, but to use email as an effective tool in your online sales arsenal, you need to be able to use it right. We see many bad sales emails popping up everyday in our inboxes. Common practice is to just delete them without opening. How to get out of this conundrum? The idea is that email is not the happy ending in itself, but just a means to the happy ending. View an email as a start to a conversation. As we discussed above, an email is a private space between you and the customer. Thus, give a precise, brief pitch and invite the customer to reply. Once the contact has been established, things happen much faster.

If you want more automated emails at every step of your customer purchase cycle, get in touch with us at Browntape. Our inventory and order management software also takes care of customer emails, in a step towards making your customers happier. 

The Basics of Multi Channel Online Catalogue Management

Catalogues are a much loved and much hated word in the vocabulary of someone involved in the eTailing business. They can be immensely helpful if they are well designed and clear, but usually this is not the case, which makes them tedious and difficult to read. For a multi-channel online seller, online catalogues are the first line of communication with customers, and first impressions last. At the same time, catalogues are also the primary way with which sellers can keep track of their product. Thus, the catalogue needs to be created and managed properly, especially because its such a dynamic entity. Products, specifications and pricing keep changing constantly, which means your catalogue has to be changed constantly too. Here are a few tips with which you can effectively manage your catalogues and help you better transition into online sales.

Multi Channel Catalogue Management

1. Create a Clean Catalogue

We cannot stress the importance of this point enough. Your catalogue is going to be published on all your online channels, and become the face of your enterprise. Customers tend to look at the professionalism and uniformity of information to judge the trustworthiness of the vendor. Hence, display all relevant information in a clean, clear-cut manner. Fill up exact data including pricing, product specification, size and weight when required, warranties, licenses, etc. Supplement it with good, attractive pictures of your product. One thing to take care of is creating and providing accurate product codes and specifications in a consistent format. Keep the catalogue backend handy, because the information tends to change often.

2. Uniformity Between Multiple Channels

As a multi channel seller, you have virtual stores in multiple online locations. To establish your integrity around the market, it is necessary that the information you provide on your catalogues through all the channels checks out accurately. Since catalogues are so dynamic in their nature, it can be a hassle to change them individually on every channel. This can also be risky and increase the chance of error. One way to do this is integrate all your channels and make changes through one common portal. You can do this by using a multi channel inventory management system that allows you to manage and edit all your online catalogues through single access.

3. Employ Technology

We have a detailed article on why you should employ technology in your overall sales process here. Now we focus on the role of technology in your multi channel catalogue management process. We advise you to go for a comprehensive inventory management tool that works across multiple channels and helps you manage your catalogues effectively. Sophisticated ones come with tools to control and edit the content on your multi channel catalogues through a single portal. You can further use automation to handle recurrent phenomenon like sales linking, copying relevant catalogue content to sales invoices and promoting your catalogue online. Sometimes, you would think it strategically wise to display different products on different online channels. In such case, single entry, multi channel inventory management can route your priorities into relevant databases, error and hassle free.

4. Know Your Way Around the System

Catalogue data management can be tricky. Especially since catalogues are not only the primary source of information for the customer, but also for you. With at least ten orders coming in per channel every day and new products being added to it on regular intervals, you need to create efficient systems and pathways to connect all your processes to the catalogue. You do not want to find yourself in a position where your catalogue states availability for a certain product while your inventory states otherwise. Catalogue/inventory discrepancies can lead to major embarrassments. Again, technology can come to your rescue. You can automate inventory changes so that they are uploaded directly into your catalogues.

Lastly, if you are not confident about the state of your existing catalogue, please do not hesitate to get professional help. Get in touch with Browntape to know more about multi channel catalogue management. Our comprehensive multi channel inventory management system has many features that can effectively deal with your catalogue management issues.